Future of Assistive Technology Workshop Summary

Future of Assistive Technology Workshop Summary
Team Leader: John Dinsmore, Trinity College Dublin
Assistive technology (AT) refers to devices and tools which allow people to perform many of the tasks
of daily living and to participate in social activities, employment and education, increasing
independence and wellbeing and improving quality of life. It has been said that “for people without
disabilities, technology makes things easier, for people with a disabilities, technology makes things
Assistive Technology (AT) has been identified by the European Commission as a key enabling tool to
help to overcome the barriers faced by people with disabilities in everyday life and allow them to
participate in society as equal citizens. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Person with Disabilities
requires member states to ‘undertake or promote research and development of, and to promote the
availability and use of assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities’
AT can be either high tech or low tech. High tech devices are using electronics or computers as
solutions, such as speech recognition software, digital hearing aids, talking calculators, iPhone, and
iPad; in contrast, low tech devices are less costly, do not require computer or electronics to operate and
easy to obtain, examples are highlighting pens, grab rails, adapted eating utensils, pencil grips, splints
and picture sequence board.
The use of both low and high-tech should be considered and compared
We should have a common language within the field of AT to allow the different disciplines
and stakeholders to understand aims, objectives and outputs.
It is vital that we do not just develop new technology, but that it is appropriate to the needs and
ability of the person, user friendly and affordable. Multi-disciplinary research will inform
decision making and research design to ensure that any AT is fit for purpose.
Bridging the gap between the developers and users; being more inclusive and involving all
stakeholders in the design process, e.g. end users, parents, carers
Building teams to deliver the needs of service users; how to identify the key personnel to help
achieve successful projects? Involving service users in research projects from the beginning is
It is vital to train the trainers/carers to use the technology and ensure that they are comfortable
using and teaching AT solutions to/with their clients or family members.
Funding for ongoing training and support of AT use is equally as important, monies should not
all be directed towards the design and implementation of new devices or systems.
It is important to have a clear sense of the end goal of AT devices, so that their impact can be
maximised and assessed. What exactly do we want or expect the AT to achieve?
AT devices need evaluation and assessment (especially when they are used in specific contexts;
home, centres, etc) their effect on Quality of Life and value for money.
The role of adaptive systems should be addressed. How can AT be designed to overcome issues
of scalability?
Cognitive reinforcement systems to help with independent living, using psychologists to help
understand services users reaction to adopting technology, identify barriers, develop
educational and training strategies to promote positive behavioural change.
More technology is required within the services (specifically iPads) with user friendly apps
Use of AT could cause embarrassment, stigmatization, particularly with young people. It is
important to think about unobtrusive AT. How do we make AT ‘cool’?
Exploring the role of virtual reality as AT
Using /designing technology for a range of disabilities (including lower-functioning)
Future research collaborations and grant opportunities
Research direction: consider parents voice and also ethical concerns / safety; dealing with danger
Identify potential policy updates which could reduce barriers to service delivery and provision of AT.
Virtual environment for empathy, training in life and social skills
FET (H2020) & blue sky funding opportunities
Use pre-commercial devices and focus on big-data
AAL call 7
SME – academic